95. Black and Blue: Ralph Ellison

Posted on 6 March 2022

Ralph Ellison provides a new metaphor for the experience of racism in his Invisible Man and tackles topics of art and identity in his essays.

Further Reading

• R.W. Ellison, Invisible Man (New York: 1952).

• R.W. Ellison, The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison, ed. J.F. Callahan (New York: 2003).


• K.W. Benston (ed.), Speaking for You: The Vision of Ralph Ellison (Washington, D.C.: 1987). 

• W.J. Booth, "The Color of Memory: Reading Race with Ralph Ellison," Political Theory 36 (2008): 683-707.

• M. Busby, Ralph Ellison (Boston: 1991).

• R. Doane, "Ralph Ellison's Sociological Imagination," The Sociological Quarterly 45 (2004): 161-184.

• R.E. Fleming, "Ellison's Black Archetypes: The Founder, Bledsoe, Ras, and Rinehart," CLA Journal 32 (1989): 426-432.

• L. Jackson, Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius (New York: 2002).

• L.E. Morel (ed.), Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man (Lexington: 2004).

• N. Mills, "Ralph Ellison's Marxism: The Lumpenproletariat, the Folk, and the Revolution," African American Review 47 (2014): 537-554.

• A. Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography (New York: 2008).

• E. Schor, Visible Ellison: A Study of Ralph Ellison's Fiction (Westport: 1993).

• J.T. Skerrett, "The Wright Interpretation: Ralph Ellison and the Anxiety of Influence," The Massachusetts Review 21 (1980): 196-212.

• C.A. Wall, On Freedom and the Will to Adorn: The Art of the African American Essay (Chapel Hill: 2018), Ch. 5.


Adam R Podlofsky 6 March 2022

I'll share my "Invisible Man" story. As a kid, I was an avid reader, especially of science fiction. My mother used to go to weekend garage sales where you could buy old books for a nickel or a dime. One day she brought home a book and said, "It's 'The Invisible Man'" thinking that it was the H. G. Wells novel, as I did at first. Of course it was not "The" Invisible Man, but Ellison's "Invisible Man". (If she knew what it was she wouldn't have gotten it for me). I was 11 or 12 years old at the time, and I started reading it and it blew my little mind. I was entranced and maybe slightly horrified. I've been a fan ever since.

I was surprised to hear the episode open with a "theoretical" version of this story when I tuned in to listen. 

Renegade claimed this was his favourite novel and thats why i read it and i sure was not disappointed 

All my life i had been searching for a text like this 

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